The Boston Red Sox come into Target Field for their annual sojourn to Minneapolis. After a blistering hot start, Boston find themselves in a virtual tie for first in the AL East with the Yankees. Given that they are 25 games over .500, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that either the Red Sox or Yankees will be one of the two AL Wild Card teams this fall.
Jose Berrios on the mound for the Twins and he’s been lights out again recently. Chris Sale for the Sox and has put up some good numbers. But it’s the Boston bats that the Twins need to worry about as the Red Sox lead the league in Slugging and among the league leaders in OPS, OPS+ and runs scored (5.08 runs per game). Oh and former Twin, and decent dude, Eddy Nunez playing second in place of the injured Dustin Pedroia.
Rain should let up by the 7:10p first pitch and given that Sales and Berrios work fast, it could be quick game.
Wide-eyed Rookie v. Reigning Cy Young Award winner
Mejia v. Porcello.
Let's hope last night's defensive lapses and poor decision-making on the base paths were simply an aberration due to the wet conditions and localized lightning strikes.
Let's hope the bullpen continues to pitch well competently.
Let's also hope that the boys bring their bats and see the early-June 2017 (5.00 ERA) Porcello because last night, they sorta made Drew Pomeranz look like circa-2016 Porcello.
Finally, let's also hope that the young "core" of Polanco, Kepler & Sanó can get their mojo back, who after good-to-great months of April & May are respectively slashing .231/.273/.308, .217/.244/.349 and .239/.309/.466 for June.
Minnesota has gone 10-6 in July, winning two series' against the West-leading Rangers and three out of four against Oakland. They didn't really get the offense going in their first series back following the All Star Break (against Cleveland), scored no runs on Monday, had one big inning on Tuesday (5 runs) and another crooked number in the 9th yesterday (3 runs) to notch a series win against the 2nd place Tigers.
In Boston to face the Red Sox (1st in the East, 53-39, 8-2 in their past 10) for the next four games, the Twins start the series with a rebounding Tyler Duffey on the mound. Duffey is 3-0 in his last four starts with a 3.10 ERA, and Twins' wins in each of his past five starts.
Squaring off against the Twins for Boston is All Star knuckleballer Steven Wright (11-5, 2.78 ERA, 1.18 WHIP), winner of his past three games (though with an atrocious 6.35 ERA) and looking for continued support from an offense averaging 5.38 runs per game over the past dozen.
Read on if you care to learn more about the huge mistake the Twins made when they released David "Big Papi" Ortiz ... 14 years ago ...
Boston sent 6 players to the 2016 All Star Game (Petunia wasn't one of 'em!), though none more noticeable to Twins fans than 40-year-old David Ortiz, enjoying his final year in the big show.
His current offensive numbers rank near the top of each category in the American League and (if sustained) would constitute one of his best seasons ... well .... ever. His current SLG (.665) OPS (1.085) and OPS+ (180) are the highest he's ever had. His BA (.326) and OBP (.420) are 2nd only to his 2007 season where he placed 4th in the MVP voting (which was his 5th consecutive year of finishing in the top-5).
I have no doubt we will hear much about "the colossal blunder" Terry Ryan made following the 2002 season, when he made the decision to release Ortiz in favor of Matt LeCroy (and others) starting at DH. For my own edification, I wanted to share the following facts:
In 2002, Minnesota had taken the AL Central with 94 wins,* and beaten the A's in the ALDS before being eliminated by the Angels** in the ALCS.
They had good, young players in their primes in the OF (J. Jones, T. Hunter, D. Mohr) & at 1st (Mientkiewicz), and had used Ortiz and (former 1st round pick) Matt LeCroy at DH.
They also had Shannon Stewert, former 1st rounder Michael Cuddyer and 2nd round pick Michael Restovich getting time and as bats off the bench and potential DH's.
Also note, Seattle was the first to part ways with Ortiz, in exchange for a PTBN - Dave Hollins!
Every other team in baseball had an opportunity to sign him following his release from the Twins ... only the Sox were willing to take a flyer.
It's baseball - things like this happen. Look at home many teams passed on drafting Mike Trout and Joey Votto, Gio Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen ... Trevor Plouffe! over Dustin Pedroia. Shit, FIVE pitchers were selected ahead of Clayton Kershaw!
Terry Ryan had reason to believe he was making a solid choice. No one could have predicted David Ortiz would become Big Papi, except maybe David himself. And good for him! But can we please get over it ... please?
*They and would repeat as Central champs in 2003 & '04.
**The Angels would go on to win the 2002 World Series, beating the Giants in 7 games.
Oh goody. Its going to be a weekend of "woe is me" from everywhere because its David Ortiz's last games in Minnesota (barring playoffs!). Because something that happened in 2003 (There are about two generations of Twins fans that never saw Ortiz play in a Twins uniform. I mean, David ortiz once played in a game where Bob Tewksbury was the starting pitcher and Terry Steinbach was catching. Ortiz has been around forever) is affecting the current state of the Twins now.
Makes me wonder what would happen if Joe Mauer was let go or traded and then has a couple of banner seasons. Would the Boo Joe Mauer crowd boo the Front Office for letting a good player go? I dont know.
I do now I get tired about the Twins blunder. Why can't people let go ?